Dodgers, Will Smith agree to 10-year, $140 million contract extension

Will Smith (Photo: Cody Bashore)

Just a little more than 24 hours until the Dodgers’ home opener (and Opening Day for the rest of MLB, non-Padres division), the team took care of a franchise cornerstone in Will Smith.

Smith, who turns 29 years old tomorrow, is now set to be a Dodger for life (most likely), and the $14 million average annual value is a steal for one of the best catchers in the game. He was set to hit the open market after the 2025 season, but that will no longer happen. No word yet if this contract goes into effect for this season or starts next year, but he did avoid arbitration with the club earlier this offseason by agreeing to an $8.55 million, 1-year deal. If he’s playing on that number this year, the extension kicks in for 2025 through 2034.


Since debuting in 2019, he’s second to J.T. Realmuto in fWAR (15.8 to 19.8), third behind Adley Rutschman and Mitch Garver in wRC+ (128 to 130) and top five in defensive runs saved (26). That’s just a smattering of his statistical accomplishments.

Smith is a fixture on the club and a bit of an ironman behind the dish. He and Realmuto are the only catchers to top 500 plate appearances over the last three seasons (even if he gets a few looks at DH every so often). He can be counted on to be in the lineup, handle the pitching staff well and just be an overall above-average-to-plus player. For the Dodgers to get him for 10 more years at a very affordable rate is downright Atlantaian (not even a word).

As for his future — as well as those of Diego Cartaya, Dalton Rushing and Thayron Liranzo — well, it’s probably going to be mostly behind the plate. Cartaya looked like the surefire catcher of the future and a guy who could push Smith to third base, but a disastrous 2023 season pumped the brakes on that possibility. Rushing and Liranzo are not only bat-first guys, but they have questions about being able to hold up well enough defensively over the course of a 162-game season. In Year 6 or 7 of this deal, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Smith shift to the hot corner or even first base, but that would be contingent on a number of things — like the Dodgers’ future at third base after Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman‘s future after his deal ends, a catcher or catchers good enough to justify moving Smith from behind the plate and Smith’s performance himself.

But those are all variables to worry about down the road. For now, the Dodgers have locked up a Top 1-3 catcher in the game for the next decade on a team-friendly deal, and there’s nothing to complain about with that.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.